Buffalo - November 5, 2014 -
Who: Montreal Canadiens
Where: First Niagra Center, Buffalo, NY
Know thine enemy: After a red-hot start, the Canadiens have come crashing back to Earth. This was bound to happen given their goals against numbers during that hot start; a team can only win so much when they’re being scored on as much as the Habs are.
Still, at 8-4-1, they’re not in a bad position. One thing they need to remedy is allowing the first goal, seeing as how they’ve done that in 11 of 13 contests so far. They’re riding a three-game skid and have been badly outscored during that time.
Part of the issue is goalie Carey Price, who has been very disappointing following a strong playoff run. He’s 7-3-1, sure, but his bloated 2.94 GAA and surprisingly low .907 save percentage will likely negatively impact that record sooner rather than later.
Offensively, they’re getting strong starts from Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk. The trio has combined for 14 goals and 26 points so far and have taken some of the pressure off of stud offensive defenseman P.K. Subban. They’re slumping lately, but are more than capable of lighting the lamp quickly. With nine players boasting five or more points (the Sabres only have two), the Canadiens are a threat to pile it on if the Sabres give them the chance.
About the Sabres: What’s to say? This team is laughably bad. They have an NHL-worst 1.08 goals per game and their power play is an equally hilarious joke, clocking in at just 2.4% with one power play goal to their name this year.
Offensively, there’s not much to comment on. Tyler Ennis seems like Alex Ovechkin compared to the rest of the team thanks to his four goals; only Marcus Foligno and Drew Stafford have more than one goal.
Defensively, it’s the same old story: give up a thousand shots, stand around and watch the goalies stand on their head only to lose by multiple goals. I’m starting to feel bad for Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth at this point, though there’s still the chance that a contender could suffer freak injury in net and need one of them, rescuing them from the hockey abyss that is the blue and gold.
The last time these two met: These two met in Buffalo back on October 18th and it was ugly. The Bruins dominated the Sabres, shutting them out 4-0 in the midst of a nasty shutout streak that kept the Sabres off the board.
With the Sabres’ struggling offensively, the 2-0 deficit after one period was more than enough to consider it over and Svedberg was actually pretty good, stopping all 32 shots he faced.
The part where I predict things: Doom.
But if I have to type more than “doom”, I suppose it will be this: the Habs are a team desperately trying to get back on track with a bunch of smallish, quick forwards. They’re going to pepper the Sabres with shots consistently and probably connect on a few of those.
On the other end of the ice, the Sabres are a team that can barely register 20 shots on a good night and they’re playing against an elite goalie in need of a jump start. That spells, you guessed it, DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.
Score: 3-0 Canadiens
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